Adopt a Penguin on World Tourism Day

The plight of the endangered African Penguin is highlighted on World Tourism Day

Monday, 27 September 2010, marks World Tourism Day. This is a day earmarked globally by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation to celebrate the benefits of tourism and, in 2010 specifically, to raise awareness of the linkages between tourism and biodiversity.

As one of its key natural and cultural assets, Cape Town’s biodiversity has long been the city’s most crucial visitor draw card and as such, tourism needs to play an increased role in preserving our biodiversity.   

Cape Town Tourism partnered with SANCCOB, the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, this World Tourism Day to highlight the plight of the African Penguin. A mere fifty years ago, more than one million African Penguins could be found along our coastline. Since then, human activity, such as commercial over-fishing and the migration of food sources due to warmer ocean temperatures, have reduced this number to a mere 25 000 breeding pairs of wild African Penguins living in colonies across South Africa and Namibia. During the last four years the population has crashed so dramatically, that BirdLife International, in May this year, changed the conservation status of the African Penguin from ‘vulnerable‘ to ‘endangered’.

The Cape’s penguins are an iconic symbol of tourism in the region; a sign of the health of our marine biodiversity and a much-loved attraction for children and adults alike at Boulder’s Beach. SANCCOB’s work aims to protect and conserve southern Africa’s coastal birds, like the African Penguin, for the benefit of present and future generations and Cape Town Tourism commends SANCCOB for their rescue, rehabilitation and educational efforts.

SANCCOB’s CEO, Venessa Strauss commented that, “For the past 42 years SANCCOB has played an active role in the conservation of Southern Africa’s vulnerable seabirds, especially the endangered African penguin, through successfully rehabilitating them and releasing them back to their wild colonies, conducting research that informs decision-makers, and educating the general public about matters that affect the health of the marine eco-system. We invite each and every South African to join us in our work to save these precious seabirds.”

CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Mariette du-Toit Helmbold concludes, “Cape Town Tourism is calling on the tourism sector to rethink their relationship with their environment, both in terms of the people within our communities and the actual ecological landscape. We are asking tourism players to plan and act in ways that contribute to the health of these elements and the overall strength of our biodiversity.”

Cape Town Tourism adopted a penguin on World Tourism Day and will adopt another on behalf of the member of the public that names their penguin www.capetown.travel/blog.

For more details on how to adopt a penguin please visit www.sanccob.co.za.

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